Hebridean Celtic Festival 2012
How insanely cool would it be to sonically experience a wasp in your ear - in Binaural? See? I’m still thinking about sound-related stuff.
This past week I have been working at the 17th annual Hebridean Celtic Festival in Stornoway - this was my 4th year. I fully intended to write this blog entry on a day-to-day basis, however I have just not had the time or energy to do so. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering at the festival and can’t wait for next year.
Monday found me awake unusually early, incredibly anxious (more so than normal) and on the CalMac ferry crossing to the Isle of Lewis from Ullapool (after a three hour drive from Thurso). After checking into my accommodation and posting the obligatory Facebook Status Update, I set about my usual walking tour of Stornoway - taking in the festival site office and McNeill’s Bar. As a lot of familiar and new festival faces alike materialised, I truly felt as though I had come home.
On Tuesday, I arrived at the site office surprisingly un-hungover (due mainly to the fact that I couldn’t be bothered boozing) to find that the Scottish Islands Stage tent had already been erected and the kingpins for the Main Stage had been installed. After my morning Berocca and bacon & egg roll I was good to get started on helping with the Islands Stage decking construction and with assembling the tarp for the Main Stage. I also found out the difference between a ratchet-spanner and a socket-set; namely that the latter is sod all use for decking bolts.
On Wednesday, I didn’t really get to help with the sound system for the Islands Stage. I did however get to help with rigging the lighting trussing and installing the moving heads and PAR cans. Then we moved onto the Main Stage where we erected the stage itself, the magical smarTmast for the line array, one of the lighting rigs and the front-of-house “island”. However, as everything needed to be ready for the production rehearsal the next day, I stayed late with a half-dozen other Tech Crew members and the lighting designers. Then because the power supply was causing the equipment to malfunction (due to an insane voltage difference between phases and streetlight grid switching) I stayed behind even later with the lighting engineers to do some fault-finding.
I didn’t have to be on site ’til midday on Thursday due to being up half the night swapping DMX cables and such. The Tech Crew got the crowd barriers into position and rigged up the backline and projector systems on both stages. I also had my first experience of Churros & Chocolate and Pimm’s cocktails. In the evening I enjoyed some Celtic Electro-Rock from Niteworks - personally I prefer the bands playing on the Islands Stage to the Main Stage.
On Friday afternoon I had some time off to enjoy some of the afternoon acts on the Main Stage along with some more Churros & Chocolate. I lost my Spitting-Hog-Roast-in-a-bun complete with crackling virginity - as well as getting to experience “Chipstix” - a tattie on a stick, cut in a spiral, dipped in sunflower oil and spicy flavouring and deep fried. Oh, and we ran the island dry of Buckfast.
On Saturday, somebody in the halls nicked my bacon from the fridge and I was repeatedly hassled by born-again religious nut-jobs picketing the entrance to the festival. On the plus side, I enjoyed yet more Hog Roast, Beef Roast, Pimm’s, Churros & Chocolate and more bands. At the end of Stuttgart Traffic’s set, the bassist put his guitar down, ran to the drum kit and started playing along with the drummer, while the guitarist threw his axe down, did a backflip and walked offstage. Due to the fact that the BBC were only filming Thursday & Friday, I was given the opportunity of assisting with the cameras and visuals. I also had the overnight de-rig to look forward to.
On The Sabbath, everything in Stornoway is closed. Not to worry, we had our own “Survivor’s Barbecue” on site. I made cocktails for just about everyone. Enter International Drinking Rules and a hangover en-route.
Monday 16th: why did I drink all those sodding cocktails last night? And why does the remaining lighting de-rig have to be AFTER the barbecue? And why did that geezer in the shared kitchen have to repeatedly yell “WHERE’S MY F———ING BREAD?!?” at 5am? It was my bread btw.
Wednesday 18th: Goodbye Stornoway. Time enough before the ferry for one for the road in McNeill’s.
It’s A Long Way To The Top If You Want To Rock n Roll
Over the past week I have had some experience of being a crew member, a system tech, a lampie, a vision mixer, a cam-op and a barman. I wouldn’t have thought too many people fit that into a lifetime, let alone a week.
Stuff for next year: more electrical tape, boots that don’t hurt my feet, actual spanners (instead of a socket-set which I call a “Doo Dah”) and a gym membership (lifting stage decking is not my strong point, especially with a hangover).
Currently listening to: AC/DC, Morcheeba, Oasis, Massive Attack, Elbow, Ozzy & The Trade.
Job Shop time…
Technical services for events, theatre, private parties, raves, discos, music production, weddings and charity functions. Tech Crew, sound engineering, on-location recording and mixing, PAT Testing, spot-op, cam-op, lighting setup and control, equipment service and repair, hire and sales, PCB prototype and circuit design, installation and consulting. Serving Dundee, Forfar, Kirriemuir, Arbroath, Carnoustie, Montrose, Monifieth, Broughty Ferry and Perth. Will travel further afield to Falkirk, Glasgow, Inverness and Edinburgh by appointment.